GMA-7 seeks recall of 'right of reply' rule during campaign period-A A +A
Thursday, January 24, 2013
MANILA -- GMA Network Inc. is asking the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to immediately stop its implementation of the right to reply rule, which is set to take effect during the campaign period beginning next month.
In a letter sent to the Comelec, network officials claimed that it is afraid that the provision might result to being swamped with demands for replies from various candidates while they are constricted by limited amount of airtime.
"GMA submits that it should be given leeway by the Commission to determine on its own, which matters are newsworthy enough to air on its programs and not to be burdened with the submission of reports of claims invoking said right to reply," said the company.
GMA also said it believes that imposing the right to reply must be required only by legislation and not just through a resolution of the poll body.
"In the case of Lokin vs Comelec (in 2010), the Supreme Court found that administrative IRR must comply with requisites… it must be within the scope of authority given by the Legislature," said the network.
To note, there is still no law on the Right of Reply concept as the bill remains pending in Congress as well as the Freedom of Information (FOI), which carries its own right to reply provisions.
For its part, the Comelec explained that the provision on right to reply provided in Comelec Resolution 9615 only seeks to provide candidates, who felt aggrieved by their election rivals by charges published or aired against them, a chance to gain equal access to media.
"A candidate can invoke his right to reply anytime… This provides an opportunity for a candidate who feels that he was not given that opportunity to make that known to us and then we will refer that to the network for their answer," said Comelec spokesman James Jimenez in an interview.
Section 14 of Comelec Resolution 9615 states that "all parties and bona fide candidates shall have the right to reply to charges against them. The reply shall be given publicity by the newspaper, television and/or radio station, which first printed or aired the charges."
It added that the reply shall be given “same prominence or in the same page or section, or in the same time slot as the first statement”.
However, the poll official clarified that such cases, wherein the right to reply is not honored, will not automatically mean legal cases against the media outfit.
"It's more on the let's talk on whether or not this thing happen and then let’s arrive in a mutually satisfactory solution considering the requirements and the unique nature of reporting," said Jimenez.
In the resolution, the Comelec said candidates may submit a formal, verified claim against the media outlet, where they want to invoke their right to reply to the commission, through the Regional Election Directors (REDs) or the Education and Information Department (EID) in the main office in Manila.
It said that the claim shall include a detailed enumeration of the circumstances and occurrences that warrant the reply.
For its part, the Comelec said it shall endorse the claim to the concerned media outfit within 24 hours upon receipt of the candidate's claim. (HDT/Sunnex)